Summary: We're all familiar with the story of Mary and Joseph and the baby in the manger... but where does God fit into the story?
A Sunday School teacher had her students put a manger scene in a corner of her classroom. It was the Christmas season, and her pupils were excited as they set up the model barn and covered the floor with real straw and then arranged the clay figures of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Wise Men, and all of the animals – all of the clay figures faced the little crib with a tiny doll represented baby Jesus. When the scene was all set up one boy kept going back and standing in front of it totally engrossed by what he saw.But there also a puzzled expression on his face. And the teacher finally asked him, “So, what do are you thinking? Is there something you’d like to know?” The boy kept his eyes glued on the manger scene, and slowly said, “What I’d like to know is, where does God fit in?”
As I was working on today’s sermon, I started to ask myself that very question: Where DOES God fit into this story? I mean… it’s fairly obvious that the baby in story is the Son of God. Or, as the Gospel of John tells us:
“In the beginning was the Word (that’s Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1
SO… PROBLEM SOLVED! (pause) Or is it?
You see, GOD was way more involved in this story than just being the baby in the manger. For that simple scene - with Mary and Joseph and the baby living in an obscure smelly barn, surrounded by shepherds and sheep and goats and calves… and all of it taking place in UNimportant little town called Bethlehem. For all that to happen (for just that little scene) A lot of planning had to take place. A lot of planning by God.
1 Peter 1:20 says “(Jesus) was foreknown before the foundation of the world
Galatians 4:4 tells us that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son”
This thing had been in the works for centuries. Everything in that Bethlehem story had been meticulously planned since the foundation of the world.
On top of that, everything in the Old Testament pointed forward to the coming Messiah: His birth, His life, His death… and the resurrection of Jesus. All that had been predicted. There were over 300 prophecies declared: “He’s Coming! He’s Coming!!!”
And one of those prophecies is in Isaiah 7:14 that declared: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
And that brings us to our text today: “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary…. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’ And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God.’” Luke 1:26-27 & 31-35
Now that’s a nice story… but why go to all that trouble? I mean: What difference would this little story mean to us?
As I was thinking about that, I recalled a conversation I’d had recently with a friend. This friend was telling me that they truly believed in Jesus, but they couldn’t quite bring themselves to accept the idea that ALL THE OTHER world religions were wrong. She was really struggled with that (and she’s not the only one).
Now theologically, we know that that’s true. Jesus IS the only way. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
But WHY is that truth? Why is that no one can come to Father except through Jesus?
The answer is simple: All other religions speak of a god or force who’s “way up there, and really doesn’t care” UNLESS you’ve earned enough brownie points to make him/ her/ or it love you. That kind of god would never do anything for you UNLESS you deserved their attention
But, the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 tells us that God cared enough to make the 1st move! “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”